Al Sieber

Al Sieber (February 27, 1843 [2][notes 1] – February 19, 1907) was a German-American who fought in the U.S Civil War and in the American Old West against Indians. He became a prospector and later served as a Chief of Scouts during the Apache Wars.

Al Sieber
Born(1843-02-27)February 27, 1843
Mingolsheim, Baden, Germany
DiedFebruary 19, 1907(1907-02-19) (aged 63)
Tonto Road-(Apache Trail) Gila County, Arizona
Place of burial
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service18621864, 18711890[1]
RankChief of Scouts
Unit1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry
Sixth Cavalry
Battles/warsBattle of Antietam
Battle of Fredericksburg
Battle of Chancellorsville
Battle of Gettysburg
Apache Wars
Battle of Cibecue Creek
Battle of Big Dry Wash

Early life

Albert "Al" Sieber was born in Mingolsheim, Baden as the 13th of 14 children. He was baptized on March 1, 1843, in St. Lambertus Church, Mingolsheim. His father Johannes died on September 16, 1845. Between March and April 1851, three years after the "Badian Revolution", his mother Eva Katharina née Fischer, immigrated with her still living eight children (six had already died) to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The family moved to Minnesota several years later.[3]

Civil War service

He enlisted on March 4, 1862, in Company B, 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War. Sieber was severely wounded on July 2, 1863 in the Battle of Gettysburg, at Cemetery Ridge. He fought in several key engagements, including Battle of Antietam, Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Gettysburg, Apache Wars, Battle of Cibecue Creek, and Battle of Big Dry Wash. After the war, he became a prospector in California, Nevada, and in Arizona Territory, where he managed a ranch from 1868 to 1871.[4]

Army scout and guide

In July 1871,[5] General George Stoneman hired Sieber as Chief of Scouts[6] and for much of the Apache Wars. He participated in Crook's Tonto (Apache) campaign (1871 – 1873). When the Camp Verde reservation was closed, Sieber was told to move Yavapais and Tonto Apaches to the San Carlos Reservation in the middle of winter. He remained employed there and participated in several engagements with Apache groups that had left the reservation.[7]

On October 24, 1874, the Arizona Miner reported, "Al Zieber, Sergeant Stauffer and a mixed command of white and red soldiers are in the hills of Verde looking for some erring Apaches, whom they will be apt to find." Three days later, Sieber and Sgt. Rudolph Stauffer found the Apaches that had escaped the reservation at Cave Creek and fought them.[8][9][10] Josephine Earp wrote that when she arrived in Arizona, she learned that "some renegade Yuma-Apaches had escaped from the reservation to which they had been consigned and had returned to their old haunts on the war-path" and that Sieber was tracking the escaped Apache.[8] She said Sieber and his scouts led her stagecoach and its passengers to a nearby adobe ranch house where they remained until the Indians were captured.[11][12][13]:46

In February, April, and May 1877, Sieber acted as a guide for Pima County Marshal Wiley Standefer, who was pursuing outlaws in the region.[14]

In 1883 Crook went into the Sierra Madre of Mexico following Geronimo. Sieber was Crook's lead civilian scout and mentor to Tom Horn, whom he taught to speak German, as well as fighting together during the Battle of Cibecue Creek and Big Dry Wash.[15] Sieber was in the field but not present when Geronimo surrendered to Lt Charles B. Gatewood and General Nelson Miles in 1886.

Sieber stayed on at San Carlos as Chief of Scouts for another 13 years.


In 1887, Sieber was shot and wounded when the Apache Kid and his followers escaped the reservation to prevent being jailed again. During his various battles and fights over the course of his life, Sieber received 28 wounds.[16][notes 2]

Perjury and revenge on the Apache Kid

A few days after the Apache Kid surrendered, he was found guilty of mutiny and desertion and sentenced to ten years at the military prison on Alcatraz Island. Secretary of War William Endicott reviewed the court-martial file of the Apache Kid and came to the conclusion that the trial had not been fair. On October 20, 1888, six months after his arrival on Alcatraz, the Apache Kid was released and headed back to San Carlos, Arizona. Unhappy with military law, Sieber decided to retry the Kid, this time for attempted murder in territorial court. On October 29, 1889, as the star witness, Sieber testified that the Apache Kid had shot him even if he knew the Kid was not wearing a weapon at that moment. Witnesses saw Curley, another Apache scout, shoot at Sieber, but none were called to testify. Al Sieber's perjury resulted in a sentence of seven years in the Yuma Territorial Prison for the Apache Kid and 3 other scouts.[17]

Post army life and death

Sieber was fired from his San Carlos Chief of Scouts position in December 1890 by Major John L. Bullis.[18] He left San Carlos and took up prospecting until 1898.[19][20]

On February 19, 1907, Sieber was leading an Apache work crew that was building the Tonto road to the new Roosevelt Dam site on the [confluence of the Salt River and Tonto Creek on the border of Gila County and Maricopa County] in Gila County. The project was under the supervision of another famous frontier scout, "Yellowstone" Luther Kelly at Apache Trail, a separate downstream road, Maricopa County, Arizona. Sieber was killed when a boulder rolled on him during construction. [notes 3][21] He was buried with military honors at the cemetery in Globe, Arizona.[4]

In film and media

Sieber has been portrayed in a number of films:


  1. 1844 was a leap year, leading to some confusion about Sieber's birth date. His tombstone in Globe gives his birth date as 1844, as does the book Chief of Scouts. Both are incorrect.
  2. "When I met Al Sieber, he carried twenty major knife, lance, arrow and gunshot wounds in his body. When he quit the service ten years later, he had garnered another eight serious scars. Also at that time of discharge or separation, he carried fifty three knife cuts on the butts and stocks of his various guns. He said that twenty eight of these represented those Apaches who had left their marks on him." (Tom Horn)
  3. In 1907, during construction of the Tonto road, a rocky point was blasted leaving a huge boulder precariously balanced on a small stone. Sieber, who during the frontier warfare had not hesitated to shoot Indians, realized the danger and saved his Apache helpers by knocking out the supporting stone. But his lame leg, twice cracked by rifle balls, hindered his retreat and he was killed by the plunging rock.


  1. Dez.5.1890 Bullish fired Sieber
  2. "Christening in 1843 Albert Sieber - von Johannes" (in German). p. N° 5 (zoom>bottom) # 16.
  3. Tom, Todd. "Tom's Tombstone Travels: Al Sieber" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  4. Heard, Joseph Norman (1987). Handbook of the American Frontier: The far west. 4. Scarecrow Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-8108-3283-1.
  5. Arizona Historical Review (12 MB PDF), January 1931, Volume 3, Number 4, page 61: hired him to be Chief of Scouts July 1871.
  6. Thrapp, A Man of Note: "He was the only scout regularly on the government payroll".
  7. Thrapp, Dan L. (1995). Al Sieber: chief of scouts. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-8061-2770-5.
  8. Michno, Gregory F. (2003). Encyclopedia of Indian Wars: Western Battles and Skirmishes, 1850-1890. Missoula, Mont.: Mountain Press Pub. Co. ISBN 978-0-87842-468-9.
  9. Machula, Paul R. (December 12, 2010). "Al Sieber". Arizona History. East Central Arizona History. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  10. "Al Sieber". Arizona History Page. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  11. Mitchell, Carol (February–March 2001). "Lady Sadie". True West Magazine. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. Mitchell, Carol. "Lady Sadie". True West Magazine. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
  13. Monahan, Sherry (2013). Mrs. Earp (First ed.). TwoDot. ASIN B00I1LVKYA.
  14. Ball, Larry D. (1999). The United States marshals of New Mexico and Arizona territories, 1846-1912. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 978-0826306173.
  15. Herring, Hal (2008). Famous Firearms of the Old West: From Wild Bill Hickok's Colt Revolvers to Geronimo's Winchester, Twelve Guns That Shaped Our History. Globe Pequot. pp. 120–121. ISBN 978-0-7627-4508-1.
  16. Henry, Will (1996). I, Tom Horn. p. 70. ISBN 978-0803272835.
  17. Hutton, Paul A. (2016). The Apache Wars: The hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the captive boy who started the longest war in American history. New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 978-0-7704-3583-7.
  18. O'Neal, Bill (1991). Fighting Men of the Indian Wars: A Biographical Encyclopedia of the Mountain Men, Soldiers, Cowboys, and Pioneers who Took Up Arms During America's Westward Expansion. Barbed Wire Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-935269-07-9.
  19. Arizona republican. (Phoenix, Ariz.), July 27, 1898, Image 7
  20. "Arizona silver belt". December 22, 1898. Al Sieber who came in from Pinto creek last Tuesday, informed us that a great deal of development work has been done on the Mines in that part of Globe district, which is attracting much attention. Seventy-two claims, covering practically the whole gulch, have been bonded to an eastern syndicate.
  21. Arizona: A State Guide. p. 455.
  22. Tuska, Jon (1985). The American West in Film: Critical Approaches to the Western. Greenwood Press. p. 249. ISBN 978-0-313-24603-6.
  23. Robert Aldrich (July 9, 1954). Apache (film). United States: United Artists.
  24. "Apache Kid". Stories of the Century. Season 1. Episode 28. January 9, 1955.
  25. Jack Starrett (February 1, 1979). Mr. Horn (television). United States: Lorimar Productions.
  26. Dixon, Wheeler W. (2000). Film Genre 2000: New Critical Essays: The SUNY Series, Cultural Studies In Cinema/Video. SUNY Press. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-7914-4514-3.


  • Bourke, John G. On the Border with Crook. University of Nebraska Press. Lincoln. 1891. ISBN 0-8094-3583-7.
(reprint): Bison Books. 1971. ISBN 0-8032-5741-4.
  • Crook, George. General George Crook: His Autobiography. University of Oklahoma Press. 1986. ISBN 0-8061-1982-9.
  • Cruse, Thomas. Apache Days and After. University of Oklahoma Press. 1987. ISBN 0-8032-6327-9.
  • Cozzens, Peter. Eyewitnesses to the Indian Wars, 1865 – 1890 (The Struggle for Apacheria). Stackpole Books. 2001. ISBN 0-8117-0572-2.
  • Davis, Britton. The Truth About Geronimo. Bison Books. 1976. ISBN 0-8032-5840-2.
  • Debo, Angie. Geronimo: The Man, His Time, His Place. University of Oklahoma Press. 1982. ISBN 0-8061-1828-8.
  • Field, Ron. US Army Frontier Scouts 1840 – 1921. Osprey Publishing. 2003. ISBN 1-84176-582-1.
  • Gatewood, Charles B. Lt. Charles Gatewood & His Apache Wars Memoir. Bison Books. 2009. ISBN 0-8032-1884-2.
  • Goff, John S. Arizona Biographical Dictionary. Black Mountain Press. Cave Creek. 1983.
  • Hutton, Paul Andrew. The Apache Wars: The hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the captive boy who started the longest war in American history. Broadway Books. New York. 2016. ISBN 978-0-7704-3583-7.
  • Lockwood, Frank C. More Arizona Characters. University of Arizona. 1943.
  • Roberts, David. Once They Moved Like The Wind; (Cochise, Geronimo, And The Apache Wars). Touchstone. 2005. ISBN 0-671-88556-1.
  • Robinson, Charles M. General Crook and the Western Frontier. University of Oklahoma Press. 2001. ISBN 0-8061-3358-9.
  • Sabin, Edwin L. General Crook and the Fighting Apaches (1871 – 1886). Lulu Press. 2008. ISBN 1-4097-1970-7.
  • Thrapp, Dan L. Al Sieber: Chief of Scouts. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 1964. ISBN 0-8061-2770-8.
  • Thrapp, Dan L. The Conquest of Apacheria. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 1967. ISBN 0-8061-1286-7.
  • Thrapp, Dan L. Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography. Volume III, P-Z. University of Oklahoma Press. (Reprint 1991). ISBN 0-8032-9420-4.
  • Traywick, Ben T. Legendary Characters of Southeast Arizona. Red Marie's. Tombstone. 1992.
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